On 11 June 2015, the EU and Tajikistan held the seventh round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue, which took place in Brussels for the first time. The EU delegation was led by Ms Elisabeth Tison, Head of the Human Rights Strategy and Policy Implementation Division in the European External Action Service, while the Tajikistan delegation was headed by Mr Muzaffar Ashuriyon, Head of Division for Human Rights Guarantees in the Presidential Administration, who was accompanied by the Ombudsman, Mr Zarif Alizoda, and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.
Discussions were open and constructive, building on the positive experience of previous years. The delegations addressed a range of issues, including elections, freedom of expression, women's rights, torture, freedom of religion and the situation of civil society. The EU welcomed the work of the Ombudsman and encouraged the Tajikistan authorities to further strengthen the institutional setting, including the planned introduction of an Ombudsman for children's rights. The adoption of a state programme on the prevention of domestic violence was also acknowledged as a positive step. The EU welcomed Tajikistan's ongoing work to combat torture, but stressed the need for additional efforts to counter impunity.
The EU expressed concern regarding reports of pressure on independent journalists, urged the Tajikistan authorities to cease blocking news and social media websites, and encouraged the implementation of recommendations adopted at the EU-Tajikistan Civil Society Seminar in Dushanbe in 2014, which focussed on freedom of expression. The EU expressed regret at the reported shortcomings in the March 2015 parliamentary elections, and reiterated its readiness to support Tajikistan in aligning the electoral process with OSCE and other international standards. Legislative proposals that would impose new requirements on civil society organisations were identified as a matter of concern.
The two sides will explore areas of technical co-operation and possible support, ahead of the next human rights dialogue, that will be held in Dushanbe in 2016.
For more information
EU-Tajikistan relations: http://eeas.europa.eu/tajikistan/index_en.htm
The EU and human rights: http://www.eeas.europa.eu/human_rights/index_en.htm